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Fallen firefighter's family files lawsuit

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

The family of fallen Chicago firefighter Daniel Capuano, who was laid to rest on Friday, has filed a wrongful death-negligence lawsuit against the owners of the warehouse where he died fighting a fire on Dec. 14.

Capuano, 42, of Chicago’s Mount Greenwood neighborhood, was a 16-year veteran of the Evergreen Park Fire Department, where he worked part-time in between full-time shifts with the Chicago Fire Department.

Evergreen Park Fire Chief Ronald Kleinhaus said last week that this was the first time an active firefighter for the village had died in the line of duty.

Anilroshi, LLC, is the listed owner of the warehouse at 9213 S. Baltimore Ave., Chicago, where Capuano was fatally injured when he fell from the smoke-filled second floor down an unmarked and empty elevator shaft. He died shortly afterward at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.

The suit, filed in Cook County Court, claims the company is responsible for numerous safety violations including the failure to provide protection from falling through holes in the building, and failure to obtain building permits to safely decommission and remove the elevator.

The Chicago law firm of Motherway and Napleton is representing his family, including his wife, Julie; daughter, Amanda, 16; and sons Andrew, 13, and Nick, 12.
Chief James Graben, of the Palos Fire Protection District, where Capuano started his career, said more than 3,000 firefighters from across the United States and beyond attended the visitation and funeral services held last Thursday and Friday at St. Rita High School Chapel in Chicago.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was also there, and spoke at the funeral, as were officials from Evergreen Park and other neighboring communities. Graben said that Capuano was remembered as a great firefighter and family man, who, among other things, helped coach his sons in hockey. His sons attend Queen of Martyrs School in Evergreen Park, as did his daughter, before going on to Mother McAuley High School.

The funeral procession from St. Rita, at 7740 S. Western Ave., Chicago, to Holy Sepulchre Cemetery at 111th and Austin Avenue in Worth, was more than a mile long. People wanting to show their support to his family lined the route as the procession made its way through the city and suburbs.

“People came from coast to coast. I talked to firefighters from Seattle and New York, and someone told me that they even met a firefighter from Australia,” said Graben.

“The Chicago and Evergreen Park fire departments did everything very professionally. He couldn’t have asked for a better send-off. It really was an amazing show of support from the fire service community as a whole for a fallen hero,” said Graben.